Guns N' Roses deliver old-style rock for fans prepared to wait

May 30, 2012

Axl Rose blasts through his gilt-edged rock repertoire, reminding us of Guns N' Roses' glory days

What you need to know
Guns N' Roses is an American rock band, which formed in Los Angeles in 1985. Its original line-up featured vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Steven Adler. Axl Rose is the only remaining original member.

The band, which combines elements of punk rock, blues and heavy metal, is best known for songs such as Welcome to the Jungle, November Rain, Patience, and Sweet Child o' Mine, which reached number one in the US Billboard charts. Their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, sold 28 million copies worldwide.

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Guns N' Roses number 92 on their list of the '100 Greatest Artists of All Time' and listed their album Appetite for Destruction among their '500 Greatest Albums of All Time'.

The band appears at the O2 Arena in London on 31 May and 1 June.

What the critics like
It was surprising to hear how alert and switched-on Guns N' Roses sounded, says David Sinclair in The Times. With Rose in the mood to put on a show at the LG Arena in Birmingham, "this was a reminder of just what a gilt-edged repertoire he still has at his disposal". The band blasted through a string of heritage rock tunes for which the description "kick-ass" might have been invented.

Axl Rose has a bit of a reputation for keeping his fans waiting, but at his Dublin gig, the 50-year-old singer, nursing a leg injury, "was gracious, good-humoured and almost punctual", says Ed Power in The Daily Telegraph. Arriving earlier than expected at 10.20pm, with his troupe, dressed as post-apocalyptic warriors, he "got into the pantomime spirit".  Rose "chewed the scenery" on some "deliciously over-the-top covers" accompanied by "dental-work-troubling explosions".

This is a rock show like they used to be, says Paul Cole in the Sunday Mercury. Pyrotechnics, flame throwers, tickertape, confetti cannons, helter skelter video and "every pose from the Rock God style guide". Rose is 50, but "there's life in the old dog yet". And there's method in his madness - from his panama hat, leather jacket and droopy moustache to his oxygen tent - because this marathon gig "is sensational".

What they don't like
Guns N' Roses' latest jaunt was very rock n' roll to look at, but it proved surprisingly lacking in excitement at times, says Jonathan Geddes in The Herald. The three-hour set could have delivered tremendous value for money, if it wasn't "padded out by extended guitar solos" and "a couple of bloated numbers" such as Street of Dreams.

At moments the near three-hour set feels "more like an endurance test than a rock concert", says Ed Power in The Telegraph. Several tracks from 2008's turgid comeback LP Chinese Democracy seem to go on forever. And with G N' R consistently going on close to or after midnight, "concert-goers are torn between worshipping at the altar of old school hair-metal or missing the last bus".

Rose might think it is punk to keep his fans waiting, says Simon Price in The Independent. "But there's nothing punk about ripping off your own fans." If you really want civil disobedience, don't show up at all. "You won't be missing much."

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